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A summer season of helping for a Saskatoon volunteer – all from her backyard

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When COVID-19 gripped the country, locking down everything, Jean-Anne Booker wondered how it would affect her volunteer work with the Canadian Red Cross. After all, disasters don’t care about pandemics.

How would people affected by disaster get the help needed in these times?

It turned out that there was no need for concern as the Red Cross quickly pivoted to continue to provide much-needed assistance. It also turned out that Jean-Anne had one of her busiest summers since she started volunteering with Red Cross four years ago.

From helping families experiencing home fires and checking in on people who were self-isolating because of COVID-19, to leading a team of volunteers supporting the safety and wellbeing of those affected by flooding in Fort McMurray, Jean-Anne was busy indeed.

Volunteer Jean-Anne Booker working from her backyardInstead of deploying to help in person, Jean-Anne was among the hundreds of volunteers in Saskatchewan and across Canada who turned to technology to continue to provide support, and she was able to do it all from her own Saskatoon backyard.

One of her first assignments was checking in with people who were isolating as a result of COVID-19.

“Our job was to make sure they were well,” she explained about the purpose of the daily phone calls made to those in isolation. “We could connect them with the nurse on duty or make sure they got personal items or other things they needed.”

She then spent two weeks on a ‘virtual deployment,’ helping those affected by flooding in Fort McMurray. Again, she was making check-in calls, ensuring those from evacuated areas were getting the physical and mental health support needed while displaced, and connecting them to community resources.

Back in Saskatoon, Jean-Anne also took several shifts as a member of the Personal Disaster Assistance Team, carrying the 24/7 on-call phone that those affected by personal disasters, such as home fires, can call for help. This Red Cross program can provide support to people in the form of a place to stay and funds for food, clothing and other essential items like diapers or eyeglasses, for up to three days.

Despite her busy volunteer schedule, she still managed to have fun this summer – hanging out at the lake and having regular Grandma-dates with her three-year-old grandson.

“I think we all need to give back to the world, especially the way it is right now,” Jean-Anne said of why she volunteers with the Red Cross. “I feel like I can use some of the skills that I have taken away from my career and I’ve also had a chance to learn new skills. I like helping and volunteering ... gives me focus in my day.”

The Red Cross relies on dedicated volunteers like Jean-Anne to help those affected by disasters. We provide the training, tools and opportunities so you can make a difference in your home community or across the country.

Learn more about volunteering with the Red Cross at redcross.ca/volunteer.


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